BC allows destruction of caribou habitat to the point of extinction: new report

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

VANCOUVER — Eighty one per cent of BC’s southern mountain caribou local populations have lost more habitat than what’s needed for survival. The Wilderness Committee released a new report today measuring all destructive activities within caribou critical habitat over the past 80 years. 

Results are staggering. Critical habitat disturbance levels are far beyond the threshold for caribou recovery in 17 out of 21 local population units. 

“It’s clear as day, habitat destruction is driving caribou to extinction,” said Wilderness Committee Conservation and Policy Campaigner Charlotte Dawe. “Logging companies have made billions of dollars cutting forests in BC and they’ve given back layoffs, falling wages and worsening job insecurity — and the threat of extinction of an iconic species.”

In 2014, the Canadian government produced a recovery strategy which partially outlined the critical habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of southern mountain caribou. Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), BC is primarily responsible for protecting critical habitat and the federal government must ensure the province is doing so.

“The province has been ignoring its responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act for years to keep big logging companies happy, with no repercussions,” said Dawe. “Federal officials are complicit in this case by failing to step in. Both governments have caribou extinction on their hands.” 

In September, BC forest minister Doug Donaldson told media that no additional habitat protection is required for all southern mountain caribou, except for herds in the Peace region. This new report shows that all but four local caribou populations across BC currently do not have enough intact habitat for recovery, nor can they survive further habitat destruction. 

“Minister Donaldson’s claim about habitat is not grounded in science. Our report shows that if caribou are to recover, we must immediately protect all critical habitat and then look at short-term actions to keep these herds going while habitat recovers,” said Dawe. “What we do for caribou in the coming years will decide their fate and set a precedent for future species headed for extinction. We have the knowledge and resources to save caribou — we just need the political will to do it.” 


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Click here for the full report and disturbance map.

For more information please contact:

Charlotte Dawe | Conservation and Policy Campaigner
778-903-3992, charlotte@wildernesscommittee.org

More from this campaign
Mountains included in the interim protections and habitat for the endangered Quintette caribou herd. The interim protected areas are in addition to the creation of a new provincial park announced Feb. 21. Photo: Tristan Brand / Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Mountains included in the interim protections and habitat for the endangered Quintette caribou herd. The interim protected areas are in addition to the creation of a new provincial park announced Feb. 21. Photo: Tristan Brand / Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative